First and foremost, I have to admit, I am a HTC & Samsung follower in terms of Android smartphones all these years, although I would prefer the stock vanilla models (Nexus One, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4) to the handset specific models due to the fact that the former has faster OS updates and lack of unnecessary manufacturer custom UI.
However, after using all the different models all these years, my personal preference has been HTC as their HTC Sense UI makes the most sense (!) amongst all the custom UI of the various manufactures.
But I. Was. Proven. Wrong. Now. In. 2013. After reviewing the Xperia Z set (courtesy of Sony Mobile Singapore), I did not hesitate to get a set of Xperia Z to replace my HTC One XL.
Xperia Z is the flagship phone from Sony Mobile for 2013, and Sony Mobile pulled out all the stops in conceiving this baby out. It has been reported that Japan has sold over 150,000 units in its first week in Japan, taking a 24 percent market share straight away. This also shows that Sony Mobile must have done something right finally for their range of Android phones.
As with all Sony aesthetics, the Xperia Z wows you the moment you open the box cover. A professional and slick looking phone awaits your attention. In terms of looks, I think Sony has once again raised the bar, making the Xperia Z another eye candy that you can’t resist.
Many changes have been done for Xperia Z, and one of the most visible changes is the lack of Timescape. Timescape was introduced by Sony Ericsson when the first Xperia phone was launched in 2009, and I have to say that it is one of the most user-unfriendly custom UI amongst the handset manufacturers. It is good to see that Sony listened to their customers’ feedback and replaced it with an all new UI, NXT. It is not as intrusive as before and more customization is allowed for a user’s home screen. (Call me traditional, but I have adopted the same layout and positioning of my launchers and widgets in the same way throughout all my Android phones! That’s for consistency and ease of usage.)
With a 5″ Full HD Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA® Engine 2, the colors of the phone are very rich with 16millions colours TFT screen and a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It’s a mid-way between the Samsung S3 and Note 2, and I appreciate its ‘just nice’ size.
Speed wise, with a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 1.5Ghz quad-core processor and loaded with the latest 4.1.2 Jelly Bean Android, it has been a very smooth sailing experience in terms of usage, without much of the lag that used to be prevalent in past Xperia models (Perhaps the removal of Timescape helps too?). This is one of the key reasons that prompted me to get a set of the phone after experiencing the smoothness of usage.
Lastly, although equipped with a 2330mAh battery, I am concerned with the Z’s battery life due to the Full HD Reality Display, on top of the fact that I have LTE 4G network. The good news is that if I were to stick to using a 3G network, the battery life is good and will lasted me almost an entire day with 20% left at the end of the day. However, upon switching over to the LTE network, battery life is drained fast. Also do take note that the Xperia Z is not compatible with all battery power packs due to its larger battery.
However, not all things are made perfect. Although these might be small issues, but sometimes such small details will make a huge difference in the user experience, which a certain fruity company has been very successful in looking into these details.
One for example, the casting of Sony font in some of the main apps, such as Gmail, which disrupts the constant user experience. It certainly took me quite a while to get used to the new font in Gmail.
Another example, is the disabling and enabling of pre-loaded apps. It is easy to disable the pre-loaded apps, but in order to re-enable it again, you would need to reset all the user preferences, which might not be what the users are looking for.
Un-installation of apps is one of the small complaints I have. The vanilla stock OS and other handset manufacturers stick with the tap and uninstall format, but for the Xperia Z, users have to tap the ‘Uninstall app’ selection and proceed with the uninstallation, which makes it an additional unnecessary step. This affects the overall user experience.
Overall, the Xperia Z is a very impressive handset device and I believe it has propelled Sony Mobile back into the mobile phone inner circle, stirring up excitement that hasn’t been present in the past few years.
To know more about Xperia Z